This week wasn't exactly packed full of Jason Bourne combat action or boat tours, but it was quite a nice week. My one year anniversary was great and so was the cake. The staff get-together in honor of my first year in the field was good. We had 100% turn-out (all four of us) and we used twelve matches in place of candles on the cake...one for every completed month thus far. The traditional burning of a shirt has yet to happen, but let me assure you, I'm not going to let a chance like that just pass me by. A lot of the members also had little get-togethers for me, which was really nice. There is still one more party to look forward to that has been postponed until later this week. It will be a great teaching experience along with some delicious chocolate cake. I was having a discussion the other day with Elder Noorda and he said, "I'm not in the best shape that I've ever been in..." In which I immediately responded, "When was the last time you ate cake on a daily basis or had someone at home get mad at you for not eating until you had to smash food down your throat because you're so full?" We are definitely being well taken care of in Manaus and there has yet to be a shortage of food.
Last Friday, I attended Festa Junina, which is celebrated nearly the entire month of June and is a big deal here. They have lots of food and cultural dancing (particularly quadrilha, which is similar to square dancing). It was interesting to watch, but to be honest, I'm not 100% certain the purpose of the holiday. From the looks of my Brazilian business planner, every day seems to be a holiday. It is no wonder everything is a bit behind with respect to technology, education, and transportation. Brazilians love any excuse for a celebration.
One of the big highlights of the week was the race that went down on Saturday between Elder Noorda, Kennedy Boby (the skinny Brazilian), and myself. We woke up at 6:20 a.m., tired as usual, and headed over to the Olympic track to begin the race. Boby took off fast, so I stayed on his hip the first lap to keep him within reach at all times. At the turn, with 200m to go on the 2nd lap, I felt a now or never turn-surge desire, so I kicked outside and got in front right before the bulk of the turn and catapulted myself out. I kept running at a decent pace, nothing like I've done in the past but enough to stay in the lead. Before I knew it, I'm on the 4th lap, and with 200m to go, I lapped Boby and rolled through the finish line victorious and the winner of ice cream! I started my timer and didn't look at my watch after the first 300m but was expecting to see 7:30 or more, for obvious reasons, at the conclusion of the race. Just as I crossed the finish line, I looked down to see my watch advance to 5:45! It was completely unexpected. Later in the day, Boby came by with Indian clothing and we took a few pictures, which got a good laugh out of a lot of people.
As for those we are teaching, we seem to have encountered a setback with a lady named Ana Glaucia because her man is now living with her again. I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed when we learned of this unfortunate change in events, but that's life. You win some and you lose some. The next battle for us in this situation will be that of marriage, which isn't exactly high on the Brazilian check-list of things to do in life. Other than that, a couple prospects fell through, but help is on the way. A missionary recently returned home after serving in Campinas and now we can have him and Boby assist us in doing divisions. This is a huge help because it gives us four people to walk the streets of Flores rather than just two. The fact that they are Brazilian is another advantage.
We (the Secretaries of the President) were in charge of the lunch for the Interior Conference, which was held in Alvorada. I got to see a few friends, which was really cool, including Elder Guerrette, the previous Financial Secretary. Being the last to eat, since we were the hosts of the luncheon more or less, Elder Noorda and myself found the only two unoccupied seats and joined President and Sister Jayme at their table. It was pretty funny talking with them. I guess the other missionaries who don't really know them might have some fear of them or something, but being that I talk with President Jayme daily, I really enjoy his company. He always has something witty to say and I get a kick out of it. The conference was a success and afterward we walked back down the stairs to finish our work for the day.
As for other news, we are planning an activity for the ward, but it is still in the developing stages. The lunch appointment in Rio Preto da Eva got rescheduled for this coming Saturday, but I can't wait. It is going to be awesome! I would like to thank everyone for their continued support. Your emails and letters make my day and are greatly appreciated.
Elder Taylor Mackay